The church I had been the pastor of for three and half years had shut its doors. It was in many ways a sad occasion but we all recognized that it was God’s will. God’s will is the best place to be even when His will is not your will. The church had been a great blessing for me. I had made some wonderful friends and I was grateful to the Lord for the opportunity to share His word, an opportunity that does not always avail itself so readily to one who had not yet attended seminary. (It would be about 8 more years befor the Lord set that task before me so I was very thankful for the opportunity and the experience.) About a month after the church had closed, I began to send out letters to various churches in the area seeking opportunities to provide pulpit supply. In the meantime, my wife and I took a vacation and visited a few churches in the area. It was nice to attend some services and be ministered to, but after a few Sundays I was ready to get back in the pulpit again. Let me just say that a preacher in the pew is like a fish out of water. I can only compare it to someone who loves basketball and any time they drive by a park and see someone playing they want to jump in the game. Sitting in the pew as a preacher, it is hard not to jump up and jump in the game. I so badly wanted to be involved again in preaching and teaching the magnificent, wonderful word of God. I had sent out about a dozen letters and was trying my best to be patient but it had been several weeks and not a single call had come in! I was beginning to get discouraged.
One afternoon I was working on a pave stone retaining wall in the back yard to keep the dirt in the flower bed and to keep the weeds out. I have also found that hard work is good therapy whenever things are weighing heavily on my mind. The wall was about 30 ft long and 2 – 3 stones high. It was similar to one I built in the front yard. After several hours I was finally ready to put the last stone in place and I needed a particularly shaped stone. A regular size stone would not fit in the opening that I had. To fill that opening I was going to have to take one of the new stones and chip away at it and cut it in half and shape it in a triangular piece to make it fit in that area where I needed that final missing piece. The last time I tried to shape one of those stones with a hammer it took a long time. As I considered the difficulty of this task, I remembered that I had a piece of a stone left over from the wall I placed around the front garden area that was completed two and a half years earlier. I saved it because I’m a pack rat and I save everything. I thought that someday it might be useful for some task. Would it fit?
I found the stone in the shed and took it to the new retaining wall. It fit perfect and slid right into place! I started to cry. I had so much anxiety and concern about how long it might take for God to find a place for me to minister that I felt like this was His way of putting my mind to rest. The Lord was letting me know that in His time, in His way, He would place me where I needed to be. I had not been forgotten. I had already been shaped by His Hands and designated for a certain task, a certain place in His garden. I knew that in the fullness of time, He would place me where I was needed and where He wanted me to be. I resolved not to worry so much and to try to continue to be patient. A couple of weeks later, I received a call to fill in for pulpit supply in response to a letter I had sent out. Was I available the next Sunday? Yes, I was! The Lord had a task for me and I was ready. He placed me where He wanted me, in His way, in His time. Three months later, that same church called me to be their pastor. The bible says in Philippians 1:6
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
You can expect that the Lord has shaped you and crafted you for a unique place in His Kingdom. Never forget that no matter what your feelings may tell you. God has a place for you! Do your best to stay patient and prayerful. You can expect that if you place yourself in His hands, that in His time and in His way, He will place you where you need to be.
If you would like to know more about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you can send me an email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org